In short, yes. In public sector procurement, bidders can withdraw their tender submission at any point between submitting their bid and contract award. There are a multitude of reasons a bidder may need to withdraw, and as long as this is done before contract award, it is usually permitted by the awarding body.
Reducing the risk of having to withdraw from a bid
Whilst in theory you can withdraw a tender submission at any time, it is seen as poor practice, and a waste of both time and resource for the bidder organisation (who has produced the tender submission) and awarding body (if they have begun to review it). As such, it is important that you have established comprehensive bid/no bid criteria to reduce the risk of having to withdraw by:
- Studying the tender documentation provided before bidding, which enables you to make an informed decision as to whether you can fulfil the tender requirements. If you are unable to commit to the specification, do not feel that you have the experience/capabilities to bid, or do not have a good chance of success, then consider if your efforts would be better diverted to a more suitable tender opportunity.
- Resource mapping to verify you have sufficient resources before bidding. By identifying and analysing the resources needed, you can appropriately assess existing resources, and begin developing a recruitment strategy, if needed, to meet contractual requirements.
- Ensuring sufficient experience in the sector you are tendering for, and that you can evidence to the evaluator that you have the capabilities to deliver the contract. If you do not have experience relevant to the specification, you should consider if this is something that will negatively impact your bid, e.g. having to withdraw because mandatory contract examples cannot be provided.
- Ensuring compliance by reviewing mandatory pass/fail requirements such as specific accreditations, necessary policies and procedures, and relevant experience, and that you meet the financial threshold.
Reasons you might withdraw a bid
Whilst the above process will position you positively as a competitive tenderer, there are sometimes reasons arising that lead to the withdrawal of your bid:
- Your company may become financially unviable, e.g. during COVID-19 many organisations lost work leading to bankruptcy/liquidation.
- Increased prices across the bidder organisation’s supply chain may mean that the bidder organisation is no longer confident they can deliver the contract profitably and sustainably at the tendered prices.
- Loss of resources (e.g. staff, finances, materials), meaning you cannot fulfil obligations.
- Inability to deliver the requirements by the commencement date, e.g. insufficient time to put contract infrastructure in place.
- Non-compliance, e.g. you have missed something in the tender documents, meaning you do not meet standards or have not submitted relevant supporting evidence.
- A change in requirements from the awarding body.
How to withdraw a bid
Is important to withdraw the bid as early as possible – before the acceptance of the bid by the buyer organisation and in particular before formally entering into a contract. The process for withdrawing your submission is dependent on the tender submission format:
- Portal submissions – portals may have a field which allows you to immediately withdraw your bid. This will be clearly labelled and provide instructions for successful withdrawal. If this is not the case, the tender portal will include a messaging or communication platform to directly raise queries with the buyer organisation relevant to the procurement. Once a bid has been withdrawn you will receive an email notification.
- Other submissions – a bid submitted via email will require a short withdrawal email to the authority to whom you are bidding. You are not obliged to provide the reason for withdrawing your bid, but it is encouraged that you do, to ensure future bids are taken seriously. Following a simple template structure can help make this a straightforward process.
With extensive experience writing tenders, our team can offer guidance regarding the mandatory requirements when completing a bid. Contact our team today for bid and tender writing support.
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